Jacob Rees-Mogg accused of trying to overturn social distancing rules to force MPs back to the Commons

PUBLISHED: 11:18 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:18 20 May 2020

Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

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Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has been accused of overturning public health guidance on social distancing to force MPs back to the Commons.

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A Whitehall source told POLITICO that Rees-Mogg had asked Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle if he could relax social distancing rules in order to get more than 50 MPs into the chamber.

It is reported the speaker refused, citing Public Health England (PHE) regulations.

The move comes as the Brexiteer put plans in motion to force MPs back to the House of Commons by June 2, when parliament reconvenes following a short recess, in order to “set an example” to the public.

Newspaper reports have claimed senior Tory MPs want to be able to fill the House again to support a ‘rattled’ Boris Johnson up against Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs)

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But, Liberal Democrat, SNP, and Labour MPs remain opposed to the move and have summoned the senior Tory MP to the Chamber to answer an urgent question on the matter while protesting the plans.

Scottish Lib Dems MP Alistair Carmichael made the request which will see Rees-Mogg hauled out in front of angry MPs who say the move would exclude colleagues deemed as ‘high-risk’ by PHE from participating in debates.

MORE:Rees-Mogg accuses opposition MPs of trying to ‘stymie’ government by refusing Commons return

Opposition parties have drafted an amendment to the Commons business statement this afternoon to oppose the plan. If accepted by the speaker, it will move to a vote, which is expected to go Rees-Mogg’s way.

During a House of Commons committee yesterday, Rees-Mogg agreed that MPs and certain staff could continue working remotely from home but insisted they travel to Westminster to take part in debates and votes.

Rees-Mogg is set to announce that the Commons will be compliant with Public Health England’s advice around social distancing.

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